February 27th, 2015 saw the departure of one of the world’s most talented and beloved faces: Leonard Nimoy. Made famous through his character Mr. Spock from Star Trek, Nimoy had a lasting career that spanned over sixty years and arguably became one of the most recognised figures in television and science fiction. Nimoy passed away from a lung disease he developed thirty years ago, and the world’s media has given a collective send off of love, admiration, and gratitude to the beloved actor. Mr. Nimoy’s career extended far beyond Mr. Spock, appearing in many television and film roles, as well as working in directing, poetry, music, and photography.
Leonard Nimoy was born in 1931, and began acting from an early age, though he spent some time in the United States Army Reserve from 1953 to 1955. Some of his early acting roles included the title role in 1952’s Kid Monk Baroni as a young boxer, and as a Martian in the movie serial Zombies of the Stratosphere. He also appeared in oseveral science fiction B-movies of the 1950s in minor roles. But it was in 1966 when Nimoy was hired to play the half-human/half-Vulcan, Spock, in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek created by that his career really launched.
Mr. Spock quickly became the series’ most iconic character. He was used by the show writers to examine humanity, and Spock being a reserved alien driven by logic was the perfect character to show what it meant to be human. This was further emphasized by Captain Kirk’s words at Spock’s funeral in the movie The Wrath of Khan, “Of all the souls I have encountered during my travels, his was the most human.” Nimoy and Kirk’s actor William Shatner maintained a close working friendship for many years to come. Nimoy introduced the iconic Vulcan salute in 1967, along with the saying “Live long and prosper.”
After Star Trek ended in 1969, Nimoy moved on to other roles, but Spock was a character he just could not escape. Nimoy eventually published his first autobiography, “I Am Not Spock”, which featured him having debates with his fictional counterpart, and the decision came whether or not to embrace the popularity of Spock or to reject it. However, Nimoy grew to embrace his famous character, reprising his role as Spock in Star Trek: The Animated Series, in a guest role in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and for the last time in the 2009 film and its sequel as an elderly Spock known as “Spock Prime” to separate him from his younger counterpart played by Zachary Quinto.
Nimoy went on to star in Mission: Impossible from 1969 to 1971, continuing to have roles in film and television, but gained acclaim for his performances in numerous stage roles. He began his career in film directing with Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, followed by Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and then the highly successful Three Men and a Baby in 1987. He also had careers in photography, poetry, and music too, releasing a number of albums during his life. Nimoy had a prominent presence in Transformers, playing Galvatron in 1986’s The Transformers: The Movie, and then played Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. He intended to retire several times, but returned to acting, appearing in Fringe in the recurring role of William Bell, who was related to a parallel world – a fitting nod to the mirror universe concept introduced in Star Trek.
Leonard Nimoy was a man who defined himself on screen through wonderful performances and memorable characters. His final message on his Twitter account was a lovely piece of poetry that suits the actor perfectly:
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
With his passing, many people and fans of his work showed their gratefulness and love towards him and his characters, including William Shatner, George Takei, the staff of NASA, and the U.S. Army Reserve among others. And while he may be gone, Leonard Nimoy’s legacy will be treasured by those who were touched by his contributions to the arts.
Live long and prosper, Mr. Nimoy. And thank you.